I’m not forgetting the foodies amongst you in this post, I’ve included a recipe for Green Thai Curry, just the way they make it here in south Thailand! I love visiting The Grand Palace when I’m in Bangkok, yesterday’s visit makes it 3 and I enjoyed it as much as I did the first time!
The Grand Palace has been around a long time, having been built in 1782 by King Rama 1, the founder of the reigning Chakri Dynasty. The palace, one of the most visited tourist attractions in Thailand was the official residence of the country’s monarchs until 1925 and is now used for state ceremonial purposes.
Despite its name, The Grand Palace is, in fact, a cluster of buildings and pavilions, set amidst numerous gardens and courtyards and is a sight to behold! The architecture is magnificent in its beauty and its intricacy, you’ll be in awe of at the exquisite detail on the facades of all the structures within the grounds.
The Grand Palace is divided into 3 areas:
The Outer Court – by the entrance and housed the civil administration, the army and the treasury. The Temple of the Emerald Buddha (next picture) is located in one corner of this outer court and is guarded by a pair of yakshis, mythical giants about 5 metres tall. Photos aren’t allowed in this most sacred of temples, the emerald buddha is said to be carved out of a single block of jade and is only 66cm tall, encased in a glass box and surrounded by gold ornaments and decorations.
The Central Court – where the King resided.
The Inner Court – where the King’s royal consorts and daughters lived, in fact, it was entirely populated by women and boys under the age of puberty.
How do you get to The Grand Palace in Bangkok? That’s an easy enough affair!
- Just get yourself to the nearest BTS (also known as Skytrain) station and get a ticket to Saphan Taksin station or S6. This is on the Silom line, if you’re not already on that line, change over at Siam station.
- Take exit 2 and head down to the pier, this pier is also called Central, important for when you want to get back!
- Buy tickets for the Chao Praya Express boat. 150 bahts allows you unlimited access up and down for a day, 40 bahts is for a single trip, both per person. Single trips are handy if you are thinking of not coming back via boat. You want to get off at Pier no 9 or Ta Chang pier, go through the little pedestrianised area with shops, turn right and walk for about 7 minutes. You can’t miss the palace and its white walls and of course, that’s where everyone else is heading too!
A word of advice: if you’re doing both the palace and Wat Pho, I’d do the temple first as the return boat gets very busy in the afternoon and it’s easier to get on at pier no 9, as opposed to no 8 (for Wat Pho).
And how do you return from the Grand Palace? Just retrace your steps! Just a quick note, on the return trip, you buy the tickets on the boat.
Dress Code for visiting The Grand Palace
The Grand Palace is pretty strict on dress code, unlike some of the temples. No shorts and no sleeveless tops for both men and women. And I noticed that women with jeans, especially skinny jeans, were asked to wrap a long scarf or sarong over. If you cannot be bothered to cover yourself because of the heat, you can borrow the necessary long trousers, shirts or robes near the front entrance for a returnable deposit of 200 baht.
What I did notice also that women who had skirts reaching or below their knees were perfectly fine as long as they had a top with sleeves. But don’t hold me to that!
And now for the food, Green Thai Curry! Needs no introduction, the paste is of course made with green chillies, hence the colour.
- 350g chicken, diced into cubes
- 2 tbsp green Thai curry paste
- 1 x 400 ml can of coconut milk
- 4–6 Thai green aubergines, quartered or sliced
- 1–2 tbsp fish sauce, to taste
- 4 fresh/dried kaffir lime leaves
- half tbsp palm sugar
- a couple of sprigs of Thai basil or fresh coriander leaves, for garnishing
- 1 fresh green chilli, sliced diagonally, for garnishing
- Don’t shake the coconut can and you’ll have the cream at the top as you open it. Scoop out about two thirds of the cream into a medium sized saucepan on medium heat. Don’t worry if the milk didn’t separate, just pour half into the saucepan.
- Add the green curry paste and mix well. Keep stirring to prevent the bottom from catching, lower the heat if you have to. The idea here is to keep doing this until the oil from the coconut milk separates (see pic).
- Now add the chicken pieces, stir to coat. Keep stirring for a few minutes, to keep it from burning/catching, for about 5 minutes.
- Add the aubergines, stir to coat and the rest of the coconut milk, half the fish sauce and palm sugar.
- Leave to simmer, uncovered, until the chicken is cooked through, for about 30 – 45 minutes, thighs and legs will take longer, breast meat will only need 20 – 30 minutes.
- Add the lime leaves, check the seasoning, add more fish sauce if not salty enough.
- Add the slices of green chilli (go easy, I only add 3-4) and give it a stir. The green chilli slices impart a freshness to the curry.
- Serve hot, garnished with Thai basil or coriander leaves with Jasmine rice and Spicy Prawn Crackers.